A couple from Mpumalanga who are on the radar of the Special Investigating Unit (SIU) related to a R400 million Eskom contract, is in hiding – not from the crime-busting agency’s investigators, but from hired assassins who allegedly ambushed them early this month.
According to Mpumalanga police, Lloyd Sambo and his wife Carol Sanderson were at their lodge, Casambo, outside Mbombela on May 8 when eight men wearing balaclavas stormed into their house at night.
Provincial police spokesperson Brigadier Selvy Mohlala said the gun-wielding intruders forced open the door and threatened to kidnap Sambo, whom they pistol-whipped.
He said the attackers stole a TV set, a TV game, two car keys, two cellphones, two laptops, files and clothes.
They drove away in one of the couple’s vehicles, a green Lexus.
The stolen goods are valued at R970 500.
A day after the couple had fled from the five-star lodge, there was another looting spree on the premises, said Sanderson, a former radio show presenter at commercial station Rise FM and SABC-owned Ligwalagwala FM.
A white Range Rover without registration plates was spotted near the lodge.
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The SIU announced in February that it had, in collaboration with the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA), obtained a preservation order on the couple’s properties, including Casambo Exclusive Guest Lodge, two houses, five cars, a golf cart and a quad bike.
The NPA said their Tamukelo Business Enterprises, which won a R400 million tender to supply water trucking services to Eskom’s Kusile Power Station construction site from June 15 2009 to November 2020, had made various payments to current and former Eskom officials.
One of them, Duduzile Moyo, allegedly received R24.5 million in payments.
Meanwhile, Sambo has claimed that he blew the whistle on Eskom’s employees who were fleecing his company.
But he declined to comment on their recent attack because he feared for his life. "Whistleblowers die in this country,” was all he said, hinting that he suspected the attack was related to the Eskom matter.
“Early this year, Sambo said he had compiled a dossier explaining how greedy Eskom employees were demanding money from his company, allegedly going as far as dictating who he should employ.
Sambo said in February:
He said he had done so, hoping that an internal inquiry would be swift.
In hindsight, he realised that he was convinced to withdraw the dossier to protect corrupt elements within Eskom.
He alleged that one Eskom employee had instructed him to do maintenance work at two schools in Sekhukhune, Limpopo, and was told to buy trucks for politicians in Emalahleni in Mpumalanga.
Sambo also claimed that Eskom employees “unreasonably delayed and withheld payments due” to his company to force him to accede to their demands.
While still contracted to Eskom, Sambo survived two car accidents that he suspects were caused by foul play.
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One accident in 2014 left him in a coma and officials who were foisted on him by Eskom’s employees continued siphoning money from his company.
Sambo’s claims seem to be corroborated by former Eskom CEO André de Ruyter. In his new book Truth to Power, My Three Years at Eskom, De Ruyter describes the flashy lifestyles of the power utility’s employees.
The former CEO writes about how he was surprised by their flashy lifestyles: “Watching the main exit gate of Megawatt Park from my third-floor window, I was astounded to see a number of Range Rovers, BMWs, Mercs and even a stray Porsche heading for the exit at 3.30pm.
De Ruyter writes:
“The flaunting of wealth wasn’t limited to fancy cars. As someone who has spent more hours waiting at international airports than I care to remember, I have acquired a fair idea of the cost of luxury goods.
“Watching some of my relatively junior colleagues swan around clutching Louis Vuitton handbags, equivalent to a month’s salary, and decked out in branded Hermes dresses, Panerai watches and Christian Louboutin shoes, made me wonder where on earth the money came from.
“I am not saying everyone driving expensive cars or wearing designer clothing obtained their wealth through illicit means, but considering the opulence displayed by employees of a state-owned enterprise, it was certainly suspicious.
“Either Eskom employees were living way beyond their means, or they had access to funds from other sources.”